This week was unlike any other. I feel like I’ve just taken a giant tour of France. I wasn’t even hardly in St. Nazaire.
So Tuesday I went on exchange with an elder in Nantes. It was a lot of fun. We did a lot of contacting and even found somebody they could teach. Nantes is just a cool place. :) And then I got back to St. Nazaire. We quickly taught a lesson and then we rushed all over the place! We went to the gare to buy tickets, we went to the Post to pay for Elder Visconti’s legality and then we quickly packed and left to the gare to catch a train.
That night we stayed in Angers with Elder Richer-Brulé and his companion. Zone Conference was the next morning and I had to be there early for a leadership training with Elder Kent F. Richards of the Seventy. There wasn’t a train from St. Nazaire to Paris that would get us to the conference on time so the assistants had asked us to stay in Angers so we did.
Thursday morning came and we woke up at FOUR IN THE MORNING! We were sooooo tired. We were in Paris about an hour and a half later. The leadership training was SO GOOD. We talked about many, many different things. I remember it ending and thinking, “The actual zone conference hasn’t even started yet! This is too good!”
Well, we had zone conference right after the training. Elder Richards spoke for most of it and it was just honestly too good. The Spirit was strong throughout the entire thing. It was clear that each and everyone of us was being taught something different by the Spirit. Elder Richards himself was just so great. I talked to him briefly after the conference and thanked him for coming. It was honestly one of the best zone conferences I’ve had and I felt very uplifted. I received a lot of revelation and instruction as a missionary and even for after.
That night we stayed in Paris because Elder Visconti had an interview in the US Embassy the next day to get his visa to go to Provo. We had the afternoon to ourselves and we decided to go CONTACTING! I don’t know why but we were SO HAPPY to be contacting. I remember turning to Elder Visconti and saying, “I”m so happy to be a missionary.” And we went out, got lost, talked to a bunch of people and found a couple really legit people to pass to the Paris equipes. One lady was like, “I believe in God but I’m scared of him.” And we said, “That’s because you don’t understand your relationship with him; You’re his daughter and he has a plan for you.”
We stayed with the Chinese-speaking missionaries that night. I got to see Elder Cheel, from way back in the MTC. He gave me a Chinese name.
Woke up on Friday and went to the embassy. Everything went well! Thank goodness!! I was so stressed. I had to do all the paperwork and it was complicated. But everything is good. The visa arrived at the mission home this morning. Elder Visconti is going to Provo. No worries. After his interview we got back to St. Nazaire and did some work with the few hours we had.
Saturday we were off to Rennes. Got on another train and got there at night. District Conference (like Stake Conference but for a district) was on Sunday and none of the members had space in their cars so we went to Rennes. I got to stay with the zone leaders, one being Elder Nielson, my old companion from Mantes. And then Sunday morning we had conference. The building was stuffed!
President and Soeur Poznanski were there since it’s the last district in France (the mission president is in charge of the districts in the mission). There was also an area general authority, Elder Sonny Donaldson from England. Just before he got up to address everyone, he turned to President Poznanski and said something really quick. Next thing I know, President is in front of everyone and says, “Elder Lerdahl and Elder Marquez, can you please come up here?”
I screamed in my head, I CAN’T TRANSLATE!!!!
We got up there and then Elder Donaldson whispered to us.
“Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. You have one minute,” he said. He looked at me. “You’re going to bear your testimony on the Restoration.” Then he turned to Elder Lerdahl. “And you’re going to bear your testimony on the Atonement. You have one minute. Let’s bring the Spirit in here, elders.”
So I did it. And then Elder Lerdahl did it. And then Elder Donaldson told us we could sit down and he said to the members, “I want you to remember that there were ordained ministers of the Lord among us today… And when they teach and testify, they do so with power and authority. You can trust your friends with them.”
And then he gave an incredible talk. One of the best I’ve ever heard. And I won’t go into detail, but essentially he asked these questions, “Where are you? And where are you going?” Where are we in our lives? In our progression? Where are we going?
“The Lord knows the end from the beginning.”
It was incredibly good. Everyone was on a spiritual high and I know I was after having heard from both Elder Richards and Elder Donaldson within a few days of each other.
I know personally that I am where I am meant to be. I love my mission so much. There’s still so much more to do and I intend to do it.
Since Elder Visconti now has his visa, his plane to Provo is April 1st which is next Monday. So that means my last day in St. Nazaire is this Saturday. From Sunday onward I’ll be in Angers.
Elder Saul Marquez